Electric vehicle charging stations installed in Aquinnah

Town works toward the goal of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

CVEC president Bill Lake stands at one of the newly-installed electric vehicle charging stations at the Aquinnah cliffs. — Courtesy Noli Taylor

The town of Aquinnah has recently installed two vehicle charging stations — one at the town hall, and one at the Cliffs.

Drivers can use these chargers to power up their electric vehicles, free of charge.

Members of the Aquinnah climate and energy committee (ACEC) worked with Aquinnah selectmen and town administrator Jeff Madisn to secure funding for the project. The Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) helped the town take advantage of incentives offered by the commonwealth and Eversource. A grant from the Massachusetts Department of

Environmental Protection paid 60 percent of the hardware cost of the stations, and Eversource installed the necessary facilities without charge to the town, under its “Make Ready” program.

The program was created to help to advance Massachusetts’ development to a clean transportation future by providing electric vehicle charging stations in municipalities seeking to make those forward steps.

Noli Taylor, co-chair of the ACEC, said she and her family are “so excited” to have the electric charging stations in town, and it is allowing her family to consider the possibility of changing over to all electric vehicles.

She said people are already using the charging stations for their electric vehicles: “People seem to be really excited about it, and there are already people taking advantage of it.”

Town administrator Jeff Madison said the electric vehicle charging stations are a major step forward in the town’s objective of greening the town buildings as part of the Green Communities designation.

“We are really excited to offer this service at no charge to the community. This is part of our objective to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change,” Madison said 

Madison said both Taylor and Bill Lake, president of CVEC, were instrumental in the process of acquiring funds from the Green Communities program and installing the infrastructure for the charging stations.

“I have tried to facilitate the installation process with the help of Bill and Noli, and now the units are available for public use,” Madison said. “We are happy to have them, and I think there are several families who have electric cars here in town who are certainly welcome to use them whenever they need.”

According to Madison, the installation process was laborious, and the steps taken to get the charging stations operational were involved, but overall the process “went quite smoothly.”

Both chargers, Madison said, will be able to accommodate two electric vehicles at a time. He said he anticipates both chargers will be used frequently, as there are dedicated spots for vehicle charging where folks can park for extended periods.

“They are rapid-charging units, but if cars want to come up and top off their tank, they will do that in a relatively short time,” Madison said. 

For Madison, the electric chargers are symbolic of the town’s initiatives to work toward a more sustainable power infrastructure.

This includes the imminent installation of solar panels on the roof of the town hall, as well as a solar canopy over the dirt lot in front of the fire station, where the town meeting was held last summer.

“That will be similar to the canopies at Cronig’s, except ours will be an inverted L shape, which will allow for trucks to pass underneath the structure without any obstructions,” Madison said.

Overall, the installation of electric chargers fits into the town’s energy goals, and Madison said there will be continued improvements to the town hall, the cultural center at the Cliffs, the town offices, and the fire station to make them more energy-efficient. 

“We recently got our first installment of monies from the Green Communities grant, and I think we are going to pursue putting mini-splits in the town hall. Engineers were here earlier this week to begin that process,” Madison said.

Aquinnah will also be considering a nonbinding resolution at its Nov. 14 special town meeting that was passed by West Tisbury at their town meeting to limit reliance on fossil fuels so that by 2030, usage would diminish by 50 percent, and then 100 percent by 2040. The same article resolves to boost renewable electricity 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. 

Lake wrote in a press release that he is happy to see towns and entities on-Island looking to expand the availability of electric vehicle charging stations.

“Massachusetts is a leader in offering incentives to move to renewable energy, and every charging station that gets installed makes it just that much easier for island residents and visitors to decide that they too can be part of the necessary transition to electric vehicles,” Lake wrote.